The store known as La Chaussee d’Antin had recently announced its new inventory of yard goods. Over two million meters of barege, over five million of grenadine and poplin, and over three million of other fabrics-altogether about eleven million meters of textiles. Le Tintamarre now remarked, after recommending La Chaussee d’Antin to its female readers as the ‘foremost house of fashion in the world; and also the ‘most dependable’: ‘The entire French railway system comprises barely ten thousand kilometers of tracks – that is, only ten million meters. This one store, therefore, with its stock of textiles, could virtually stretch a tent over all the railroad tracks of France, which, especially in the heat of summer, would be very pleasant.’ Three or four other establishments of this kind publish similar figures, so that, with all these materials combined, one could place not only Paris … but the whole departement of the Seine under a massive canopy, ‘which likewise would be welcome in rainy weather.’ But we cannot help asking: How are stores supposed to find room to stock this gigantic quantity of goods? The answer is very simple and, what is more, very logical: each firm is always larger than the others.
You hear it said: “La Ville de Paris, the largest store in the capital,” “Les Villes de France, the largest store in the Empire,” “La Chaussee d’Antin, the largest store in Europe,” “Le Coin de Rue, the largest store in the world” – “In the world”: that is to say, on the entire earth there is none larger; you’d think that would be the limit. But no: Les Magasins du Louvre have not been named, and they bear the title “The largest stores in the universe.” The universe! Including Sirius apparently, and maybe even the “disappearing twin stars” of which Alexander von Humboldt speaks in his Kosmos. (Ebende, Lebende Bilder aus dem modernen Paris, quoted in Benjamin, The Arcades Project)
One of accelerationism’s central claims is that, although contemporary capitalism continuously uses the language of innovation, what it actually produces is mediocrity or stagnation, endless small changes that don’t really change anything (new phones with marginally different specs, that kind of thing). The accelerationist response to this is to challenge capitalism by taking seriously its claims to innovation, and to show that only an anti-capitalist politics can produce in reality the innovation that capitalism proposes as ideology. This is a misunderstanding of the dialectic. Read more↴